Why do we feel pain?

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” – Carl Gustav Jung

Castaway - Tom HanksI was watching Tom Hanks in the movie “Cast Away” last week, and I began to think a lot about pain and pleasure. There are a series of scenes where he faces enormous pain: cutting open his feet on the rocks, jabbing his leg on the coral, ripping open his hand while trying to make fire, and finally tearing out his own rotted tooth with an ice skate and a rock. Not to mention being separated from everyone and everything he loves. And while watching this, I could not help but ask life: why we must experience so much pain?

I was once taught that pain keeps us away from death, and pleasure leads us towards survival. But I don’t believe that anymore. Yes, the pain of touching fire keeps you from burning your hand, but life is not as simple as that. There is so much USELESS pain in life that is not really teaching us how to survive better. A lot of pain happens when we least expect it, and some people seem to experience more if it than others. So what is the reason for all of this pain?

We cannot have pleasure without pain because they are two sides of the same coin. We live in a universe of duality: light and dark, good and bad, pain and pleasure. We cannot have one without the other. We must embrace pain to feel pleasure. Pain and pleasure have a very intimate relationship. Just ask the gym junkie who gets high from the pain of exercise, or someone who is turned on by pain with sex. Pain releases pleasure inducing endorphins, and pleasure brings pain when the pleasure ends. Pain and pleasure are intimately bound.

Pain is part of the human experience. We have to experience both pain and pleasure in the journey of self-discovery. There are things to learn there. But how do we cope with pain when it threatens our sanity, or challenges the very framework of our spiritual understanding? It is then that we must go into it deeper; surrender to it; be with it; accept it as an experience without blaming ourselves for creating it (because we are not actually creating our life, it has been written for us and by us). We must not despair or retreat when the pain of life surfaces. Yes, it completely sucks, but without it, there would be no pleasure. Make it your journey to know both.

Sex is, of course, a great place to explore the duality of pain and pleasure, and therefore self-discovery. A much better playground than a deserted island! If sex is not a part of your spiritual journey, check out my series below to see how you can go deeper into your sexual experience and mastery.

to your vibrant experience of pleasure and pain,

Lauren Brim
Sexual and spiritual coaching

About the author

Lauren Brim, Ph.D is a doctor of human sexuality, sex coach and author of The New Rules of Sex, The New American Family, The New Rules of Sex Workbook, and Your Boyfriend's Hooker. She provides sexual health and coaching resources for women wanting to create the life or love life that they desire at www.LaurenBrim.com. Lauren has worked in the healing arts for over a decade and began to specialize in women's health after training to be a midwife. She is also the founder at www.AdultPlayMat.com She lives in Los Angeles with her daughter.

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